Hard to think of a more appropriate title for one of the best posse cuts in ages: Bon Iver gets sinister, Jay-Z raps about zombies and vampires (and love), while Nicki Minaj basically destroys everyone in her path, fulfilling a year of hype with a guest verse miles beyond anything on her own album proper.
Here’s the best reason yet for breaking up the Shins, as James Mercer uses his new project to unleash a hidden soul streak (not to mention a mean falsetto) atop Danger Mouse’s gleaming beats.
Revisiting High Violet’s leadoff number for a deluxe re-release, The National swap the original’s murky build for a Technicolor explosion that takes an already classic song to even greater heights.
David Sitek (AKA TV On The Radio’s secret weapon) stretches his production muscles via assistance from Aku Orraca-Tetteh, resulting in a sprightly mix of modern electronica and Fela Kuti Afrobeat.
26. Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs – Beg Steal Or Borrow
LaMontagne wraps his still-astonishing pipes around gorgeous pedal-steeled country; improbable (but welcome) Grammy nominations quickly follow.
“Retro” doesn’t have to mean “reserved,” especially when it’s Janelle Monaé complimenting her futuristic R&B with organic beats, daredevil horns, and one monstrous earworm of a chorus.
It says a lot about the greatness of This Is Happening when its acclaimed single—a desperate tale of love and bad poetry married to percolating Eighties synths—is only the fifth best song on the album itself. Saving something for 2011, Mr. Murphy?
Superstars attach their personas to everything they touch, and nowhere was this better illustrated than on Em’s #1 summertime single, an unflinching look at domestic abuse given additional weight via the backstories of all involved parties.
22. The Black Keys – Tighten Up
Nine years into their career and the Keys finally get their first true breakout single, thanks to a skittering beat and a fantastic riff—plus the best whistling since “Young Folks.”
21. Kanye West featuring Dwele – POWER
The first glimpse of just how wonderfully, weirdly unhinged Kanye’s new record would be: that African stomp from “Jesus Walks” fused to a left-field King Crimson sample as ‘Ye takes down his own 21st century schizoid celebrity.